Is Asbestos Siding Dangerous?

is asbestos siding dangerous

Asbestos siding can be very dangerous if handled improperly.

It seems a silly question but “Is asbestos siding dangerous?” is an important topic to discuss.

The general impression of asbestos has changed over time so that many people now wrongly assuming that it is a highly dangerous, toxic substance that must be immediately removed.

Asbestos is only dangerous when cut, sawn, or broken into small enough pieces so that asbestos fibers are sent into the air.

If asbestos remains intact in siding, insulation, popcorn ceilings, or other materials it poses no risk and is not dangerous.

Is Asbestos Siding Dangerous Checklist

If you answer yes to any of the follow questions, you could be at risk due to asbestos siding on your home:

  • Is asbestos siding on your home being actively cut, drilled, or broken into very small pieces?
  • Are entire sections of siding (not just a siding shingle here and there) breaking, cracking, and disintegrating?
  • Do you plan to remove existing asbestos siding and replace with new siding?

Those are the only common situations in which asbestos siding poses any real danger. If it is intact and in good condition, siding can be safely painted or new replacement siding can be installed over the old asbestos siding.

Safely Removing Asbestos Siding

If you do decide to remove asbestos siding from your home, the answer to is asbestos siding dangerous isn’t necessarily yes.

The real safety issue with asbestos is when large amounts of it are removed indoors and proper protocol and equipment is not used to capture and collect all asbestos fibers released.

Asbestos siding is far less dangerous due to the fact that it installed outside and very few fibers are released, even when siding shingles crack and break.

Care and proper procedures should always be taken during removal and disposal but in general asbestos siding ranks very low on the list of materials that contain asbestos as far as danger and health risks.

11 Comments

  1. I have asbestos siding and I am getting the house painted in May, at the back of the house at the base the wood or siding needs some repair, the area is not rotted but not even and looks
    worn, the guy who will be doing the painting said they will first powerwash the house, is this safe? Any comments or advise appreciated.

    Reply
    • You can power-wash it as long as you don’t blast it hard enough to knock off pieces of siding or break any edges. If you’re gentle, power-washing asbestos siding is perfectly safe.

      Reply
  2. OUR HOUSE HAS ASBESTOS SIDING AND WAS BUILT IN 1973. THE SIDING IS IN GOOD SHAPE EXCEPT TWO SMALL PIECES THAT CAME OFF WHEN PUTTING AN AIR CONDITIONER IN THW ALL ON THE SECOND FLOOR. IS MY SON WHO SLEEPSIN THAT ROOM IN DANGER OF BREATHING IN ASBESTOS PARTICLES

    Reply
    • There’s no good amount of asbestos to have in your home but asbestos siding is one of the least riskiest forms. There’s zero danger in the situation you describe, as asbestos fibers are only released from siding when it’s actively being broken, drilled, or sawed into very small pieces.

      Breaking a few pieces when installing the air conditioner wouldn’t have released enough fibers to be dangerous, and any that were released would be quickly dispersed. It only releases fibers when broken, and is otherwise inert when just sitting there after the fact.

      Reply
  3. Is it safe to cover asbestos siding with Tyvek siding or regular vinyl siding ? Would that contain the asbestos and not allow it to invade the interior of a building ?

    Reply
    • Suzanne,

      Covering asbestos siding (the fancy term is “encapsulating”) is often recommended and can be safer than trying to remove it. You’ll need to disclose it if selling the house but it’s a safe and effective way of ensuring that asbestos siding remains intact and inert and not dangerous.

      Reply
  4. We grew up in a house with asbestos siding. I remember as a child when they added on to our house, they put that siding on and I remember the cutters they used to “cut” or “break” the siding to fit. We as children would watch them cutting it, do you think we were exposed to the dangerous fibers?? I have bronchitis, (not really bad) but it worries me now. I’m 61 and doctors have asked me if I smoke and I have never smoked, they did an x-ray of my lungs but could not find anything, do I need to worry about that now??
    Thanks for any information. The other kids that were with me do not seem to have any lung problems.

    Reply
    • Marlene,

      There’s almost zero chance that you’d suffer any ill effects from such limited exposure, especially outdoors. Most cases where people suffer from asbestos exposure stem from being exposed daily in confined areas to very high levels of airborne fibers, such as from working in a factory, building ships, etc.

      Reply
  5. We just had our asbestos siding on our house removed last week by a licensed asbestos removal contractor. I took my kids out of town during the removal and when I got home the next day I noticed pieces of debris, including small broken pieces of asbestos siding, in my grass and in the mulch beds surrounding my house. I called the contractor with my concern and he said they followed protocol and put plastic down around the house when it was being removed, and circled the house 5 times during cleanup to make sure they got it all. After voicing my concern with what I was seeing he came back to the house and had me point out where I saw the asbestos and he picked it up and put it in a hazardous waste bag and took it with him, but he definitely didn’t get it all, and who knows how much more there is in the grass that I can’t see because the grass covers it. He also says more debris may continue to fall when my new siding and windows are installed (by another contractor), and left me a hazardous waste bag to pick up anything else I find. I’m scared to even go outside now wit especially with my kids, for fear of the small broken pieces of asbestos siding that may still be there. Do I need to have an environmental remediation done on my yard? How dangerous is this? I ass

    Reply
    • …Continued from previous post…I assumed when I hired this contractor that it would be completely cleaned up after the job was complete and there wouldnt be any remaining debris, whether asbestos or any other construction debris like nails, paint chips, etc, that I also found, but that isn’t what happened. Was this an incorrect assumption on my part for this sort of job?

      Reply
      • Sarah,

        It’s difficult to comment on situations like this from afar but the situation you describe is surprising, as most contractors licensed for asbestos removal would be very concerned about removing ALL material from the job site and disposing of it properly. That’s why they’re required to go the extra mile for the additional licensing and why (in theory) they take extra care when working with asbestos material as far as ensuring that all material is removed, collected, and disposed of properly.

        Your assumption is correct; everything should have been removed from the job site and disposed of. Saying that he couldn’t get everything and handing you a bag isn’t proper protocol.

        As far as next steps, each situation will be different and it’s impossible to guess at what you’re facing. Environmental remediation is very likely unnecessary and the danger of small pieces of asbestos siding remaining in your yard or grass is very low. Most dangerous asbestos situations involve large amounts of asbestos fibers being sent into the air constantly, in confined spaces where air is recirculated and the fibers are inhaled over long periods of time.

        That’s not the situation you face, so the risk/danger is likely very, very low. That doesn’t help with peace of mind, though. Basic suggestions would be to try to motivate him to make another few passes with his crew to pick up stray pieces they left behind and check to see if there are any local or state resources you can contact to get more safety info and/or come out and look at your particular case in person.

        You’ll have more peace of mind if someone in an official capacity tells you not to worry about it than when strangers on the Internet do so.

        Reply

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